We see certain trends in the types of consultations that are run on Citizen Space. If you have a look through the Aggregator at any given point you might notice several different organisations consulting on the same topic. At the moment, there are a few good consultations open on climate change, which we’ll almost certainly see more of as local authorities begin to put plans in place after having declared climate emergencies. Here are three organisations who’ve opened climate consultations recently.

City of Edinburgh Council

Screenshot of City of Edinburgh Council's public consultation on mitigating climate change
City of Edinburgh Council’s consultation on climate change

Why it’s good: As detailed in my conversation with David Porteous, which you can read here, Edinburgh tend to consult in multiple stages, the first of which has the aim of ‘testing the water’ of public opinion as it were. This consultation does just that: composed mainly of matrix questions, it’s testing for public perception on the climate crisis as well as what people are willing to do personally and what barriers to this they might face.

Why that matters: This is a good example of public response guiding a council agenda, rather than the other way round. Tackling climate breakdown requires everyone to be on board, so using a collaborative approach rather than prescribing actions (which could end up backfiring) is important.

Environment Agency

Screenshot of the Environment Agency's public consultation on effects of climate change on english waterways
Environment Agency’s consultation on the effects of climate change on English waterways

Why it’s good: there’s a lot of information in this, but videos for each section break it down to the basics, which are then fleshed out in more detail in the text. If the respondent then wants more information they can click on links to further documentation. It does an excellent job of illustrating the vast importance of our waterways and the extent to which they impact our lives (and how much we take them for granted). It also demonstrates the interconnected nature of climate change, biodiversity, and our waterways. I learned a lot clicking through it.

Why that matters: There wasn’t a point where I felt unqualified to respond to any of these questions after I’d watched/read the supplied information. This means the consultation isn’t off-limits to anyone who isn’t an expert in climate change – anyone can take part, which, given its scope and how many people are affected, is important.

Leicester City Council

Screenshot of Leicester City Council's public consultation on mitigating climate change
Leicester’s public consultation on the climate emergency

Why it’s good: This chapter-based consultation is laid out similarly to the Environment Agency’s one above, asking for views and priorities on a different topic for each chapter. All essential information is summarised, so there’s no need to refer to external documents, but the option is there if a respondent wishes. It’s also made clear on the table of contents that responding to all sections isn’t compulsory.

Why that matters: At first glance, the consultation can look a bit daunting as there are a number of different chapters. By making it clear that all contributions, whether they respond to the whole survey or just parts of it, are valid, they increase the likelihood that people with limited time, etc., will share their opinions too.

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